Michigan priest found guilty of stealing $780K from retired priests

Last week, a jury found a Michigan priest guilty of stealing from retired priests while running a retreat center.

Attorney General Dana Nessel said David Rosenberg, 72, was the director of the Lansing Catholic Diocese’s St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt, a property that includes housing for retired priests, between 2015 and 2021. During this time, he embezzled about $780,000 from three priests who lived at the retreat until their deaths. The Diocese of Lansing identified the victims as Fr. Benjamin Werner, Fr. Joseph Aubin, and Fr. Kenneth McDonald.

"Mr. Rosenberg stole massive sums of money from these elderly and vulnerable men living in the Retreat Center apartments while he was the director, and I’m appreciative to the jury for holding him accountable," said Nessel. "My department will continue to seek justice for our seniors when they are taken advantage of by people in positions of authority." 

Nessel said Rosenberg gave the stolen funds to his charitable foundation, FaithFirst, formerly the Rosenberg Family Corporation. 

After he was charged in 2022, Rosenberg was ordered to refrain from public ministry by Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing. That order remains in place.

On Friday, Rosenberg was found guilty of three counts of embezzlement from a vulnerable adult $100,000 or more; one count of false pretenses $100,000 or more; one count of false pretenses $20,000-$50,000; one count of perjury; one count of uttering and publishing, and one count of larceny $20,000 or more. He will be sentenced March 8.

"Upon the conclusion of these criminal proceedings, our prayers are naturally with those most affected by Father Rosenberg’s actions, especially the close friends and family of his three victims, each of whom has since died, may they rest in peace," said David Kerr, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Lansing.

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